Riveting is the word I would use to describe the happenings of Mark 14. One minute Jesus is lavished with expensive perfume. The next betrayed, abandoned and denied. In a matter of hours Jesus experiences every emotion possible.
But my focus is on verses 34 and 37.
To the three affectionately called the inner circle, Jesus expresses emotional vulnerability. In plain words He says, my soul is crushed with grief to the point of death |vs.34|. He was to be the sacrificial lamb. He knew it, and was prepared for it, but it didn’t make it any easier to endure. It was a weight he could not share, but Jesus it seems was not going to deny himself the comfort of friends.
He asks for support, much in the same way you and I would. Something like, hey it’s a crazy season in my life. I am still trying to wrap my head around it all. But if you could rally around me. If you could pray with me…it would mean a lot. His exact words were, stay here and keep watch with me |vs.34|.
But they could not hang. He came back to find them asleep.
I don’t know if his next words were said from a place of disappointment or hurt, but he was not pleased. Simon, he says, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me for even an hour? |Vs.37|. Ya, reading that again, it was a cocktail of disappointment and hurt. Jesus was in great distress and though amidst friends, likely felt forsaken.
Think about your most vulnerable moments. You, in the trenches of a difficult or wilderness season. We’ve all had one. Maybe multiple. You look to God (first), yes. But also, to family and friends. You trust God to see you through, but also need a safe space to lay your head, and mend. It is not always about offloading. Sometimes its being able to lean into the embrace of loved ones. To know that even though they are not in your shoes, they are with you. They could be silent for lack of (the right) words to say, but still very much present. You sense very quickly that though you are burdened, you are not yourself a burden. Proverbs 27:9 says, sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence. So never give up on a friend or abandon a friend of your father – for in the day of your brokenness you won’t have to run to a relative for help. A friend nearby is better than a relative far away |TPT|.
My years counselling have taught me that people find it difficult to express hard feelings and emotions in a neat and prescribed way. I have seen faces riddled with pain they could not communicate. They didn’t know how. Also, those who want so desperately to reach out, and accept help or support but remain stuck, for fear of judgement or abandonment. They choose to suffer in silence rather than have their troubles compounded by emotional whiplash.
It is fair to say that even in his distressed state, Jesus’ heart would have been glad if he returned to find his crew on bended knees. His cross was his to bare, but how comforting would it have been for him to see his people praying to lighten his load. To see their words of loyalty in motion. Sacrificing their comfort (sleep) to in some way albeit small, roll in the deep places of agony with him. That would have perked up his spirit. I am certain of it.
Can I employ us to be more mindful? Is it okay if I ask that when we say we will be there, we are there? Not only as an obligation but to stand in the storm of another. It is so easy to say, “I am praying for you.” But are you? No one can dispute intent at the time you said those words. But the value of your words is in the doing.
Let’s call it what it is. Dem boyz left Jesus high and dry. He was not helpless, but how could he not feel abandoned? Yet he was compassionate. He understood. Which is why he said, keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak |Vs. 38|. And then returned to his Fathers feet.
When we ask God to give us the desires of our heart, we cannot then cherry pick. He has a heart for people. Especially hurting people. If we want to be vessels, it can’t be on our own clock. He fills us to overflow so that we could then pour into others. He calls us to be conduits not reservoirs.
What’s that saying again? A friend in need is a friend indeed. Tally up those promises of support (in whatever capacity) and get to doing. A simple ‘intentional’ gesture goes a mighty long way.